(September 22, 2021) Laurentian University and Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) are pleased to announce that Rna Diagnostics Inc., a leading precision cancer diagnostics company created from a discovery made by HSNRI Scientist and Laurentian University Professor Dr. Amadeo Parissenti, has received an $8.0 M series A investment from iGan Partners and BDC Capital, through its Bridge Financing Program.
The discovery that chemotherapy treatment can promote RNA degradation (RNA disruption) in patient tumours was made in 2007 by Dr. Parissenti and his research associate, Dr. Baoqing Guo, in their lab at Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI). The RNA disruption assay (RDA), patented by Laurentian University and licensed to Rna Diagnostics in 2010, determines whether a patient is responding to cancer therapy, early during treatment, independent of cancer type and cancer therapy. RDA measures response at 5 weeks after the start of a selected regimen. The RDA cancer diagnostic technology allows oncologists to assess a selected treatment’s efficacy early during treatment, thereby enabling the tailoring of chemotherapy treatments to an individual’s response to treatment in real time. This means that if a patient’s tumor is not responding to treatment, 80% of ineffective doses and lost time can be avoided.
Rna Diagnostics’ reference laboratory is headquartered at the Health Sciences North Research Institute in Sudbury and Dr. Parissenti continues to study the cellular mechanisms involved in RNA disruption with Drs. Carita Lanner and Tom Kovala of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in the hopes of finding additional tools to predict or monitor chemotherapy response and outcome in cancer patients. Laurentian University and Health Sciences North Research Institute gratefully acknowledge the Clinical Trials Group of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Northern Cancer Foundation for supporting this important discovery and further validation studies.
“Laurentian University is proud to offer its congratulations to Dr. Parissenti and Rna Diagnostics Inc. on this incredible milestone, the investment will provide critical funding to complete the clinical trials and bring to market a technology that will improve cancer treatments worldwide while impacting positively on the quality of life of cancer patients,” said Laurentian University’s Vice-President, Research Tammy Eger. “A true northern innovation created by outstanding partnerships and collaboration.”
“Our institution is thrilled to host RNA Diagnostic Inc.’s reference laboratory, which is collecting and analysing samples from around the world for the BREVITY Trial,” said Greg Ross, HSN and HSNRI’s Vice-President Academic and Research Impact. “Dr. Parissenti’s leadership in this strategic research is evident through his mentorship of learners in his lab and the positive exposure to meaningful research opportunities that will help patients in our Northern communities. RNA Diagnostics Inc. is truly putting Sudbury on the map.”
“The continued support of iGan Partners and our current investors, combined with the support of BDC Capital as a new investment partner, is exciting,” said John Connolly, President and CEO of Rna Diagnostics. “The closing of this series A financing will allow us to complete the pivotal validation trial (BREVITY) of the RNA Disruption Assay™ (RDA)™. BREVITY is currently recruiting patients at over 40 breast cancer centres in Europe and North America.”
“This is an enormous, expensive problem for cancer centres. Typically, in solid tumors, only 30-40% of patients receive a survival benefit from a given drug regimen,” Connolly said. “Patients with nonresponsive tumours (identified by the RDA) can therefore forgo the ineffective treatment and its side-effects and moved quickly to alternate treatments”.